Citrus County’s new Administrator can’t wait to get started.
So much, that Steve Howard told his new bosses he’ll be on the job before his official start date of Nov. 29.
Commissioners unanimously approved Howard’s contract, which pays him $197,500 a year, to succeed Randy Oliver, whose retirement after seven years on the job is effective Nov. 9 — the day after Election Day.
They then applauded their new hire, who has spent the last 15 years as administrator of Camden County, Georgia.
“We’ll move Citrus County forward together,” Howard told Commissioners after the vote. “2023 is going to be a great year for Citrus County.”
Despite a process led by board Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr. that seemed at times both rushed and confusing, Commissioners agreed they ended up getting the Administrator they wanted.
“I didn’t always agree with the timeline, but you were able to do it,” Commissioner Ruthie Davis Schlabach said to Kitchen. “It’s a big win for you and for Citrus County.”
Kitchen, who chose to not seek re-election after eight years in office and whose last meeting is Nov. 7, negotiated Howard’s contract along with County Administrator Denise Dymond Lyn.
“I can leave here knowing we left Citrus County with a good administrator,” Kitchen said.
Howard, 50, has been a finalist for at least three other Florida county or city administrative positions. He said he wanted to relocate to Florida to be closer to his parents and in-laws, who live in Port Charlotte.
Citrus County Commissioners interviewed four finalists two weeks ago, both in public and in one-on-one sessions. Commissioners came away from their individual interviews impressed with Howard’s track record of economic development, strategic planning and cohesive community planning.
While Commissioners seemed initially split on Howard and Tobey Phillips, deputy administrator in Hernando County, they ended up voting unanimously to negotiate a contract with Howard.
The annual pay of $197,500 is $27,000 higher than Oliver’s salary. Howard will also receive four weeks vacation and an additional 21 days of paid personal time.
Howard told Commissioners he will transition from Camden County to Citrus in the weeks leading up to his official start date.
“I work quick and fast,” Howard said. “I like to hit the ground running.”